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01752 510913

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MEES – ‘Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards’ Changes Now in Force (from 01 April 2020)

Posted on March 31st, 2020 -

The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties. Landlords with properties rated F or G must make improvements to gain a minimum E rating, or register an exemption.

The Regulations apply to all domestic private rented properties that are:

  • let on specific types of tenancy agreement
  • legally required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

1. Is your property let on one of the following types of domestic tenancies:

  • an assured tenancy?
  • a regulated tenancy?
  • a domestic agricultural tenancy?

2. Is your property legally required to have an EPC?

If the property you let has been marketed for sale or let, or modified, in the past 10 years then it will probably be legally required to have an EPC.

If you answered Yes to both these questions, and your property has an EPC rating of F or G, you must take appropriate steps to comply with the requirements of the MEES Regulations. 

If a local authority believes a landlord has failed to fulfil their obligations under the MEES Regulations, they can serve the landlord with a compliance notice. If a breach is confirmed, the landlord may receive a financial penalty.

For further information see the gov.uk website; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance


Coronavirus – Government Publish Guidance for Landlords and Tenants

Posted on March 31st, 2020 -

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf

The guidance provides advice to landlords and tenants on the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020, and further advice for landlords, tenants and local authorities more broadly about their rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It provides non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors on:

  1. Measures relating to notices seeking possession as amended
    by the Coronavirus Act 2020
  2. Court action on possession cases during the Coronavirus
    (COVID-19) outbreak
  3. Property access and health and safety obligations in the
    context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions


Coronavirus – 26/03/2020 Landlords Notice Increased to 3 Months (New Form 6a). 27/03/2020 All Existing Possession Cases Suspended

Posted on March 27th, 2020 -

The Government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by Coronavirus. No renter will be forced out of their home.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

INCREASED NOTICE PERIOD – From 26th March 2020, if a landlord intends to seek possession, a minimum notice period of 3 months must be given to to a tenant. This increased notice period will apply in law until 30th September 2020, however both the end point and the 3 month notice period can be extended if needed. This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of eviction.

As a result of the change in law, the new Form 6a was published on 26th March 2020 and is to be used until 30 September 2020.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876162/200324_Form_6A.pdf

The Government makes it clear that tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. Government support is available for tenants who are facing financial hardship.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said ‘The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.’

ONGOING POSSESSION CASES SUSPENDED – From 27th March 2020, court services have suspended all ongoing housing possession action. This means that neither cases that are currently in or about to go into the system can progress to the stage where someone can be evicted. This suspension will initially last for 90 days but can be extended if needed.

The government is committed to supporting landlords, and maintaining the positive partnership between tenants and landlords.

LANDLORD OBLIGATIONS – Landlords remain legally obligated to to ensure properties meet the required standard. Urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.

An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local authorities are also encouraged to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement.


Coronavirus – Ban on Evictions & Mortgage Payment Holiday Extended to Landlords

Posted on March 19th, 2020 -

18th March 2020 – Government announces radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by Coronavirus.

  • Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place
  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis
  • Landlords will also be protected as 3 month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/complete-ban-on-evictions-and-additional-protection-for-renters?utm_source=22d9b39c-647f-4aa9-b61c-7ba4733dc6f8&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily

We await further Government guidance for landlords.


SWLA Meet With Luke Pollard MP

Posted on March 13th, 2020 -

Many changes are afoot within the private rented sector, we met with Luke to discuss these changes and raise points for Luke to take forward.

Items on the agenda included;

  • Renters Reform Bill (new housing court, abolition of Section 21 and it’s potential consequences and the strengthening of Section 8)
  • Rogue Landlord Database (low numbers on this database, increase in listings and access improved for it to be effective)
  • Oversupply of purpose built student housing
  • Housing Benefit (lifting of the cap)
  • Covid-19 and the effect this may have for landlords and tenants

SWLA are proud to be a voice for all of its landlord and agent members. We regularly meet with local MPs and councillors to ensure that good landlords are getting a fair deal. We look forward to meeting Luke again later in the year.


Torbay Landlord Courses

Posted on March 6th, 2020 -

On Tuesday 28th February South West Landlords Association completed the last of 4 Landlord/Agent Training days for Torbay Council.  The one-day courses have been held at Paignton Library (1) and the Foyer Torbay (3).  The courses covered all aspects of letting property in the Private Rented Sector, including tenants’ rights and landlords’ responsibilities.  A total of 65 landlord/agents attended the courses with 61 applying for accreditation and 48 joining the SWLA, so enabling them to access information, documentation and further training.

SWLA would like to thank Mr Rob Kelly (Housing Standards and Environmental Protection Manager, Torbay Council) for his assistance in both funding and advertising these valuable educational courses.

The courses were well received with positive feedback, by all attendees.

Torbay Landlord Course 2020


Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – Is your rental property ready.

Posted on February 20th, 2020 -

Is your rental property ready for 1st April 2020? Read the landlords guide to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (see link below – if the link doesn’t open for you please type the below into your search engine)

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/788145/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-standard-guidance-landlords-las.pdf


REMINDER Midnight 31st January, final deadline for landlords to complete & submit self assessment tax returns online and pay tax owed.

Posted on January 31st, 2020 -

Those who fail to submit a return before the deadline could face an initial fixed penalty of £100.00 as well as further penalties dependant on the length of delay.

If you are unsure about any aspect of your self-assessment tax return, it is important that you seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity.

For further information ; https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/deadlines


Date Set; New Electrical Safety Rules for Landlords

Posted on January 16th, 2020 -

Five-year safety checks will be mandatory for landlords for all new tenancies from 01 July 2020. This will be rolled out to all existing tenancies from 01 April 2021. The new regulations were tabled by the Government on Monday 13th January 2020, requiring pre-tenancy and five yearly checks of all fixed appliances and wiring.

Landlords failing to comply with the new rules will face fines of up to £30,000.

Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord needs to receive a written report from the inspector, with the results and next inspection date. They must then;
– Give a copy of the report to tenants within 28 days
– Give a copy to the local authority, if it asks for one, within seven day
– Keep a copy and give it to the person carrying out the next inspection.

For new tenancies, the landlord must:
– Give the tenant a copy of the most recent report before they move in
– Give a copy of the most recent report to any prospective new tenant who asks for it in writing, within 28 days

For further information http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780111191934

Article Abridged from RLA


GDPR – ICO chasing companies who have not registered and paid their Data Protection Fee.

Posted on January 16th, 2020 -

GDPR came into force on 25th May 2018. Most businesses that process personal information (private landlords included) need to register with the Information Commissioners Office and pay the yearly Data Protection Fee. If you haven’t registered – make this a priority! To check if you need to pay visit; ico.org.uk/fee-checker

The ICO have launched a postal campaign to remind all registered companies of their legal obligation. The fee is £40.00 or £60.00 per year for most small companies (dependant on turnover). A Direct Debit can be set up for automatic yearly payments.

There are a range of services and support that the ICO provide to help you comply with the law and give your tenants/clients confidence in the way you process personal information.

For more information see the ICO website;

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2019/12/the-data-protection-fee-does-your-company-need-to-pay/



Iain Maitland, SWLA Vice Chair Attends Teignbridge Housing Services Event

Posted on November 20th, 2019 -

Friday 15th November was the annual consultation between Teignbridge Housing and key stakeholders/partners who contribute to and influence the delivery of strategic objectives in the Private Rented Sector in the Teignbridge area. For more information on the Council’s strategy; https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/council-information/strategies-policies-and-performance/strategies-and-plans/

SWLA are proud to have input into such events, shaping the future of private renting for landlords and tenants alike.


Vice Chair, expert witness.

Posted on November 12th, 2019 -

The Vice Chairman, Iain Maitland attended Cornwall Council Private Rented Sector (PRS) inquiry as an expert witness, on Monday 11th November.
Cornwall Council’s Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, were holding an inquiry focussing specifically on the PRS in Cornwall (Selective Licensing being considered).
The session revolved around:
. Reliance on the PRS for housing needs.
. Decent and safe homes.
. New powers to tackle poor standards.
. Rogue landlord activity.
. Also covered were the abolition of Section 21 possession and its effects.
. Rent control.
. Longer AST’s.
. Training for landlords and accreditation.

The Vice Chairman expressed views on all of the above, which will hopefully be considered favourably especially with regard to selective licencing.


SWLA Membership Renewals Now Due!

Posted on November 1st, 2019 -

Thank you to all of our members who have renewed already.

For any members yet to renew, your membership expired on 31st October. Please arrange payment of £45.00 if you wish to renew for 2019-2020;

Account Name: SWLA
Sort Code: 20-68-10
Account Number: 50498610

Please quote your name and membership number as the reference.

Cheques can be sent to: SWLA, 30 Dale Road, Plymouth, PL4 6PD

**Your receipt will be emailed when payment has been received unless a paper copy is requested. You are agreeing to the terms and conditions of your original membership by paying your fee.**


Electrical Safety Standards on the way for England

Posted on October 30th, 2019 -

Sections 122 and 123 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (electrical safety standards) came into force on 25 October 2019. This means we are one step closer to the introduction of mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rented sector.

An enabling power was contained in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 under Section 122 to allow the Secretary of State through regulations to impose duties on private landlords to ensure that electrical safety standards are met in a property under their ownership, while a tenancy is in place. The Section also allows the Secretary of State to specify obligations that may be required of the landlord with regards to the frequency of checks and the expertise expected of any persons who undertake such checks.

Section 123 provides for the enforcement of any responsibilities introduced under Section 122 including the use of financial penalties and rights of appeal.

Following Royal Assent of the Housing and Planning Act on 12 May 2016, a working group that included, electrical and tenant bodies was established to provide recommendations on what the requirements for electrical safety in the private rented sector should look like.

Now that the Commencement Order is in place, the Secretary of State has the power to lay actual regulations, which we expect to be laid before Parliament shortly.

Summary of Electrical Safety Working Group recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Five yearly mandatory electrical installation checks should be set out in secondary legislation.

Recommendation 2: Visual checks of the safety of the electrical installation by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.

Recommendation 3: A report should be issued to the landlord which confirms that an EICR has been completed along with confirmation that any remedial work necessary has been undertaken satisfactorily. A copy should be issued to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and should be made available to local authorities on request.

Recommendation 4: Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.

Recommendation 5: The installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) by landlords should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.

Recommendation 6: A Private Rented Sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme should be set up which would be separate from existing Building Regulations competent person’s scheme.

Recommendation 7: DCLG should commission the Electrotechnical Assessment Specification (EAS) management committee to consider the most effective method of recognising ‘competent PRS testers’ to carry out electrical inspections and tests.

Recommendation 8: Legislative requirements should be phased in, beginning with new tenancies, followed by all existing tenancies.

Article Abridged from ARLA


Landlord Training Course

Posted on October 22nd, 2019 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course

Monday 27th January 2020 – 9:30 – 4:30pm

Venue – Charter Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA 

Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.

Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.

The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy.

Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or via the website to book your place, places secured on receipt of payment.

Over 780 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

We are proud to announce Landlord Accreditation South West (LASW) are founder members of the West of England Rental Standard.  


Landlord Training Course

Posted on October 22nd, 2019 -

Landlord Training Course – Intermediate Law 

Friday 17th January 2020 – 9:30am – 4:30pm

Of particular interest to letting agents and portfolio holders

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £65. Cost for non-SWLA members – £75.

A one-day course providing a more in-depth coverage of important areas of legislation and practice. Amongst the topics included will be:  

  • Tenancy Agreements – Special Clauses.
  • Grounds for Possession & Accelerated Possession
  • Overseas Landlords
  • Instructing Contractors
  • Tenants’ Compensation Rights
  • Abandonment and Surrender
  • Deposit Protection

Plus latest news and updates.

Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.

Course will be instructed by Stephen Fowler from Training for Professionals.


SWLA October 2019 General Meeting

Posted on October 18th, 2019 -

On Wednesday 16th October 2019, we held our general meeting at the Future Inn, Plymouth. We had two fantastic speakers; Krissy Salmon from One Savings Bank, discussing the changing landscape of the investor property market. Also, Martyn Taylor, Managing Director of Ashley Taylor Solicitors discussing the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 and how it affects landlords, also possession problems and how to avoid them.

60 members were in attendance and had good opportunity to ask questions and have queries answered by the speakers.

Krissy Salmon is happy to help SWLA members with any financial/lending queries following the meeting and can be contacted on; krissy.salmon@osb.co.uk

Martyn Taylor, MD of Ashley Taylors mentioned the services that his company can offer landlords, they are very experienced in possession cases and can offer an advocacy service at possession hearings. Also further legal advice if needed. To book a court advocate for a possession hearing, call 01825 766767. Discount is given to SWLA members.

The next date for your diary is our SWLA open office on Wednesday 11th December 2019 – all members welcome for a Christmas catch up and a mince pie!


Last Week to Complete the Consultation Survey; Abolition of Section 21

Posted on October 4th, 2019 -

Have your say! The Government consultation closes on Saturday 12th October 2019

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/52JFF5T


SWLA Meeting with Matt Garrett and Councillor Chris Penberthy

Posted on October 2nd, 2019 -

Iain Maitland (Vice Chair SWLA) and Linda Johns (SWLA Policy Officer) met with Matt Garrett (Service Director, Community Connections Plymouth City Council) and Councillor Chris Penberthy (Cabinet for Housing and Co-operative Development) on Monday 1st October 2019.

Items on the agenda included the oversupply of HMOs in Plymouth and the abolition of Section 21.

If any of our members would like further information regarding change of use of HMOs, please contact the SWLA Office.

IMPORTANT REMINDER; the government’s Abolition of Section 21 consultation closes on Saturday 12th October 2019. Carry out the online consultation survey if you want your view to be heard.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/52JFF5T


HMOs in Plymouth

Posted on September 23rd, 2019 -

The increase in purpose built student accommodation and the drop in student numbers has resulted in an oversupply of HMOs in the city. Plymouth City Council have been in consultation with SWLA regarding possible alternative use of some properties. Plymouth City Council are interested in the number of landlords who maybe considering a change of use of HMOs into single family dwellings or self contained flats.

Please contact SWLA office to express an interest.


SWLA Attend West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on September 20th, 2019 -

On Wednesday 11th September, Office Manager Gillian Kerr attended the Landlord Panel Meeting in Bath.

Items discussed included a licencing update, legislation updates (including removal of Section 21), prosecutions/enforcements and current market conditions.


Gas Safety Week: Fighting for a Gas Safe Nation

Posted on September 12th, 2019 -

SWLA are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2019, taking place 16th – 22nd September.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is coordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.  

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning, as you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.  

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords must make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. 

If you’re a landlord, you are legally obliged to make sure:

  • Gas pipework, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.
  • All gas appliances and flues provided for tenants’ use have an annual safety check. Your tenants can report you to the HSE if you don’t provide one, so it’s important to remember! You can set a free email and/or text reminder so you don’t forget, visit StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record until two further checks have taken place.
  • Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.

Before any gas work is carried out always check the engineer is qualified to carry out the work that needs doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the Gas Safe Register website or by checking the back of the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Encourage your tenants to also check the card when they arrive at the property.

For more information and to find or check an engineer visit GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.


The Fair Possession Coalition Meeting

Posted on September 2nd, 2019 -

Vice Chairman Iain Maitland attended the Fair Possession Coalition meeting at Smith Square London on Friday 30th August 2019.

Section 21 abolition was the main topic of discussion with an update on progress and an agreement on the way ahead. Also on the agenda was licensing, landlord registration and HMO standards.


Tax Simplification Survey – Have Your Say.

Posted on August 30th, 2019 -

Following on from the meeting that we held yesterday with Andy Richers and Nigel Mellor, Policy Advisors from “Office from Tax Simplification”, they have invited our members to complete a Government Survey, regarding ways that paying tax can be simplified. Please find link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/ots-tax-reporting-and-payment-surveys


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